Making dill pickles from your garden cucumbers can be a real treat.
Dill pickles are not hard to make, but do take some practice.
Some of the things I have learned are that the brine makes a big difference as well as how fresh your cucumbers are.
Cucumbers grow in 55 to 60 days. If you plant at the end of May you can expect cucumbers by the end of July.
If you keep your cucumbers picked every day you will have 4-5 weeks of picking. My favorite pickling cucumber is “Boston Pickling”.
Boston pickling cucumber produces an abundance of 3 to 6 inch cucumbers with nice crisp centers. If you pick cucumbers longer than 5 inches the inside begins to soften.
Save the bigger cucumbers for making relish or eating. For the crispiest pickle, pick cucumbers when 3 to 4 inches.
Garlic planted in the late fall will be ready in mid July in the northern areas of the country. Just in time for dill pickles.
I plant dill for pickling as soon as the frosts are gone. If dill comes on before the cucumbers you can dry the dill stalks or cut them into 3 inch pieces and freeze in a plastic freezer bag.
If you don’t grow your own dill you may be able to find it at the farmers market or at your local market.
Making dill pickles with fresh dill makes the best pickles but in a pinch store bought dry will work; you will need to use more.
We like a little zing in our dill pickles so I add one chili
pepper per jar. We have used Jalapeno, Serrano and dried chilies. Use
your favorite pepper depending on the level of spice you like.
Make the brine
8 1/2 cups of water
2 ¼ cups of vinegar (white or apple cider)
½ cup pickling salt
Add water, vinegar and salt to a pot and heat until simmering and salt is dissolved. Turn off heat and keep the brine on the stove until needed.
Depending on the size of your cucumbers you can put about 6-7 in each quart jar. If you only have a few cucumbers you can store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for a few days until you have enough cucumbers to do a few quarts of pickles.
Pick cucumbers in the morning before it gets hot. Wash the cucumbers and remove stems. Place the cucumbers in a large pan or bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water and add ice cubes. Put in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours but not more than 8 hours.
While the cucumbers are soaking prepare quart jars.
Add one clove of garlic to each jar. If you are using peppers, add one to each jar. Add a few dill flower heads and about 3 pieces of dill stems and leaves cut into 3 inch pieces. If using store bought dried dill you will need to add more per quart jar.
Place cucumbers into quart jars. Put the largest cucumbers in first and add smaller ones in around the larger ones, arranging them so you get the most into each jar. Smaller cucumbers can be pushed into the top.
Pour brine into each jar until liquid is just below the jar threads one inch from the top so all the cucumbers are covered. Wipe off jar rims with a clean cloth. Put on lids and rims. Any extra brine can be stored in a jar until your next batch of pickles.
Place quart jars into a water bath canner. Fill canner with water to top of jar lids. Put lid on water bath canner and bring water to a boil. Just as the water begins to boil, turn off heat and remove quart jars. Place quart jars on a clean towel and let set for 24 hours.
Label jars and store in a cool dark place. Pickles will be ready to eat after 4 weeks. The pickles taste best after 8 weeks or more.
After making dill pickles you will be hooked.